- College enrollment is projected to grow slightly over the next decade, according to an annual report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
- Between 2018 and 2029, undergraduate enrollment is expected to incease 2% to 17 million students. Graduate enrollment is projected to climb 3% to 3.1 million students over the same period.
- Although the report bodes well for overall enrollment, it doesn’t discuss how the pandemic could impact the trend.
Enrollment trends have varied by institution type. From 2000 to 2018, undergraduate enrollment at public institutions rose 24% to 13 million students, though it has decreased slightly since 2010, the report notes.
That’s compared to a 27% increase in undergraduate enrollment at private nonprofits and 83% growth at for-profits from 2000 and 2018. However, for-profit enrollment dropped by 57% since 2010, while private nonprofit enrollment has increased slightly.
Yet no institution type has been immune to recent enrollment challenges. All sectors of higher education are estimated to have lower levels of enrollment this spring compared to a year ago, according to a recent report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
Some regions of the country, such as the Northeast and the Midwest, have been harder hit than others. Ten states — including Vermont, Missouri and Iowa — are estimated to have year-over-year enrollment declines in the spring 2020 term of at least 3%.
Dozens of colleges have shuttered or consolidated under these pressures over the last few years. The coronavirus will likely hasten the demise of struggling colleges, experts say, with at least four announcing plans to close since the pandemic took root in the U.S.
The crisis has upended higher education by forcing colleges to temporarily shutter campuses, the Clearinghouse report notes, adding that its figures represent the sector before the pandemic.
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